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If you are suffering from knee pain, you may be considering a PRP injection. This is a common treatment for knee pain that involves injecting platelet-rich plasma into the joint.
PRP injections are becoming more and more popular, but many people are still unsure of how long it takes to recover from one. So what does the PRP injection knee recovery time look like?
Let’s dig deep into the benefits of PRP injections and the conditions they treat.
Understanding Our Plasma and Platelets
Red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma are the key components of normal blood. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to tissues; white blood cells help fight off disease and infection; platelets help form blood clots; and plasma is the liquid portion of the blood that contains nutrients and proteins.
Plasma also plays a key role in immunity by transporting antibodies and white blood cells.
While all three parts of blood are important, they each have unique functions. Red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow and are the most common type of cell in the blood. These cells live for about 120 days before they are removed from circulation.
Platelets are produced in the bone marrow and are essential for blood clotting. When a blood vessel is injured, platelets stick to the injury site and help to stop the bleeding.
Stem cells are present in all three parts of the blood and can produce new red blood cells, platelets, and plasma cells. Stem cells are important for maintaining healthy cells.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a concentration of platelets and growth factors that are derived from your blood. Platelet-rich plasma injections have been used in various medical fields for over two decades to help promote healing. Injections of PRP can be used to treat several conditions, including tendinitis, torn ligaments, and many other conditions that cause joint pain and muscle soreness.
The use of PRP injections by a health care provider to help speed up the healing process after surgery. The injection contains a high concentration of your own platelets and growth factors, which can help promote the growth of new tissue. Although PRP injections are generally considered safe, there is a risk of infection and other complications, which we’ll discuss later.
PRP vs Cortisone Injections
As discussed, PRP injections involve taking a sample of the patient’s blood and centrifuging it to concentrate the platelets. The concentrated platelets are then injected into the injured area.
Cortisone injections are also injected into the injured area, but they contain a synthetic form of cortisol, a steroid hormone that helps to reduce inflammation.
Both PRP and cortisone injections can be used to treat joint injuries, but they have different advantages and disadvantages. Cortisone injections are generally more effective at reducing pain and swelling in the short term, while PRP injections may be more effective at promoting healing in the long term.
However, PRP injections carry a higher risk of infection than cortisone injections. Before deciding which type of injection to receive, patients should discuss their options with their healthcare provider.
Conditions and Joint Injuries Treated with PRP Treatment
Joint injuries can be extremely painful and debilitating, making it difficult to perform even the most basic tasks. The good news is that there are a variety of treatment options available, ranging from anti-inflammatory medications to joint injections.
See the below conditions and joint injuries that are commonly treated by PRP injection.
Tennis elbow is a condition that results from overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons. The affected area is the outside of the elbow, where the tendons attach to the bone. This condition is treated with rest and ice for pain relief.
If these measures do not improve the symptoms, PRP injections may be recommended. The injection is given under ultrasound guidance, and a local anesthetic is used to numb the area.
Knee arthritis is a daily challenge for many people. It’s a degenerative joint disease that can make it difficult to do daily activities like walking, going up and down stairs, and even sitting. While knee arthritis can occur in anyone, it’s most common in people over the age of 50.
The disease occurs when the cartilage that cushions the joint wears away. This can cause the bones to rub together, which leads to pain, inflammation, and stiffness. In some cases, patients may also experience deformities.
While there is no cure for knee arthritis, there are treatments that can help improve symptoms and prevent further damage. These include weight loss, exercise, the use of assistive devices, and injections of platelet-rich plasma. With these treatments, most people with knee arthritis can maintain a good quality of life.
Rotator Cuff Tears and Meniscus Tears
Rotator cuff tears and meniscus tears are two of the most common injuries seen by orthopedic surgeons. A rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that attach the shoulder blade to the upper arm bone, or humerus.
The rotator cuff helps lift the arm and provides stability to the shoulder joint. As for meniscus tears, they occur when the cartilage that cushions the knee joint is damaged. Meniscus tears are caused by a sudden twisting motion of the knee or the culmination of wear and tear on the joint.
Both rotator cuff tears and meniscus tears can be extremely painful and can limit the range of motion, especially for professional athletes.
Chronic Tendon Injuries
Chronic tendon injuries are a type of repetitive stress injury that occurs when the tendons are overused. Common symptoms include pain, swelling, and stiffness at the injection site.
Treatment for chronic tendon injuries typically involves a combination of physical therapy and platelet-rich plasma treatment.
PRP Injection Knee Recovery Time
PRP injection recovery time can vary depending on each individual’s healing process. It is important to wait until the healing process is complete before engaging in strenuous physical activity, as this could further damage the affected area.
Depending on the extent of the injury, it may take several weeks or even months for a full recovery. But generally, the average healing time for someone who has undergone this procedure is a month to a month and a half (4-6 weeks).
However, PRP injections can speed up the healing process and help reduce recovery time. In many cases, patients can return to their normal activities within a few days or weeks after receiving PRP injections. If you are considering PRP injections, be sure to consult with your doctor to determine if they are right for you.
Risk and Side Effects
The theory behind PRP therapy is that the platelets in the blood will help to promote healing and recovery. However, there are several risks associated with this treatment.
One of the most common side effects is injection site pain and infection. This can occur because the needle used to inject the PRP can damage the surrounding tissue. In some cases, patients may also experience allergic reactions to the injections.
As a result, it is important to weigh the risks and benefits of PRP therapy before undergoing this treatment.
Consult Your Doctor
If you are considering a PRP injection for the knee, be sure to consult with your doctor about how long you can expect to wait before returning to your regular activities. Most people experience a significant improvement in their symptoms after just one treatment, but for optimal results, having three treatments spaced two weeks apart is ideal.
With patience and proper rehabilitation, most people make a full recovery from PRP injections for the knee.
About the Author
Hi there! I’m Dr. Keagen Hadley, OTD, OTR/L. Straight out of the University of Mary, I’m all about blending my know-how in knee health, well-being, and medical technology. As a licensed occupational therapy doc, I’m here to translate complex concepts into clear, actionable insights – whether it’s knee care or groundbreaking healthcare tech.